AirAsia A320. By Rob Finlayson

AirAsia, AirAsia X and Malaysian Airline System (MAS) have ended a share swap deal signed last year to end their rivalry and boost business, an official source in Kuala Lumpur has confirmed. The two are not ending their business relationship but moving it into a more flexible and less demanding form (ATW Daily News, Aug. 10, 2011).

“MAS, AirAsia and AirAsia X have refined the focus of the CobA (Collaborative Agreement) through the SA (Supplemental Collaboration Agreement),” MAS said in a statement.

“The key areas identified are procurement, aircraft component repairs, training, technical and operational efficiency, as well as mutually championing common industry issues,” the statement added.

Under terms of the deal signed in August, Tune Air and Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the major shareholders of AirAsia and MAS, respectively, had acquired from each other existing shares of both companies. Tune held 20.5% of shares in MAS and Khazanah held 10% in AirAsia. That has now ended and has the tenure of senior officials from each airline on the board of the other.

“Khazanah remains supportive of the compelling logic of proper collaboration between airlines so long as it complies with competition laws, but we also acknowledge the unintended and unfortunate confusion and distraction of the share swap arrangements that has been an impediment to the more important task of turning round the national carrier,” managing director Tan Sri Dato’ Azman Haji Mokhtar said.

The general feeling is that the move will not impact AirAsia much but could complicate MAS’s attempts to claw its way back to the black. The flag carrier suffered losses of MYR2.52 billion ($832 million) last year.